Most years at Passover I write a diary focused on the origins of Jews based on my expertise both in genetics and history. Passover celebrates, supposedly, the escape of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. It is an origin myth and like most origin myths (Thanksgiving included) it has some clear BS and some threads that probably connect to real history. The escape from Egypt is considered one of the defining moments in Judaism, perhaps THE defining moment. Into this event is in some ways placed the entirety of the ancient Jewish identity, supposedly divided into "12 tribes," as well as the defining of Jewish religious law. That is a lot to put into one holiday! But there is a more general theme, that of the struggle for freedom that many cultures can relate to. read more »
These videos are from the March 5th Mayoral Forum hosted by Democracy for NYC (seems Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson didn't show)
Former City Council member Sal Albanese:
Community leader and radio broadcaster Erick Salgado:
Former City Council member and current NYC Comptroller John Liu:
Former City Council member and current public advocate Bill de Blasio:
Trying to give as much exposure to the candidates as possible since this is a pretty important election and voter turnout may be low.
My friend and sometime adversary Gatemouth (who I last saw gracing the table of an honoree of the proudly PROGRESSIVE organization CBID) has this strange obsession. He LOVES to attack progressives. He twists many of his diaries into gratuitous attacks on progressives. The yogic moves he makes to turn as many of his diaries into a tirade against progressives would make Richard Hittleman look stiff. Well, even before Richard Hittleman was a stiff.
Oddly, on many issues Gatemouth might well be considered more progressive than I am, though he labels me among his progressive targets. Though solidly liberal, I am a bit to the right of both my wife and Gatemouth, who probably would agree almost completely with each other, though she is an officer of CBID and he loves to denigrate CBID.
I am not sure why he slants so much of what he writes in this way. Often it seems a non sequitur in otherwise very accurate, detailed, and targeted diaries. But I guess everyone has to have their strange obsessions. For Gatemouth it seems to be turning much of what he writes into a gratuitous attack on progressives. Sure, one can find foolishness among progressives. But you can find foolishness among pretty much any group. So why obsess to such a degree on progressives?
Right now, Gatemouth is on a jihad against current State Senator and Brookyn BP candidate Eric Adams. And he is making points that I think are well worth making. Senator Adams needs this kind of scrutiny. And many of my progressive friends would agree that Adams needs this kind of scrutiny, even if they don't necessarily agree that all of Gatemouth's points about Adams are that important to them. But I think they all agree with Gatemouth's main point: Adams is an opportunist. Honestly, Gatey, how many people would disagree with that? He is, after all, a politician. How many politicians have you known who weren't at least to some degree opportunist? I can name some. But most didn't get far.
But does does being an opportunist rule Adams out as being worthy of endorsements by progressives given the opposition he has had to date? If a progressive challenged him in a primary these days wouldn't you start singing "To Dream the Impossible Dream" at them?
Interestingly, before any progressive organization I know of has endorsed or spoken out about Eric Adams in the BP race, Gatemouth is saying progressives are supporting him blindly. Well, from what I can tell progressives ask one question Gatey is also asking: why does Eric Adams get a seemingly smooth path to BP? That very question came up among progressives I recently shared some good dim sum with. Now if Gatey actually hung out with the progressives he is so obsessed with (other than tagging along when said progressives honor his former boss, Senator Marty Connor) he might know progressives are a more skeptical lot than he realizes. Well, at least in this particular case.
He also claims that progressives have seen Eric Adams as a reformer. This is, as far as I know, a misunderstanding on Gatemouth's part. The progressives I know have ALWAYS felt Adams was too close to the Brooklyn machine, and I have personally commented that he was one of the few candidates who could get support from both the machine and progressives at a time of very bitter conflict between the two. I respected Adams' ability to pull support from both sides...but I never said he was himself a reformer per se and I don't think anyone else has.
But Gatemouth does have a point that many progressives (my wife and I included) DID endorse Eric Adams enthusiastically when he ran for State Senate, and given the points Gatemouth loves to dwell on it is worth asking why. So far, as far as I know, the same progressives haven't said one word about his run for BP because they have other things on their mind than his so far pretty much uncontested run for a ceremonial position.
But what about the progressive support Adams got as a State Senator? Gatemouth suggests that this support is based on thin air and with no real consideration of his past.
I disagree. For my part my first encounter with Eric Adams was prefaced with my wife's tirade against him based on a letter exchange she and Adams had in, I believe, the NY Times. My wife had taken some considerable exception to Adams on an issue and considered him a grandstander. So both of us started biased against him...but in the end endorsed him. Did we do so blindly? Hell, ANYONE who knows my wife knows she never does anything blindly but is one of the more analytical people you will ever meet. I would like to think I come close to her on this. I think my wife and I approach any candidate based on what they have done, who supports them, what they say (and how they say it), and who they are running against. It is not one thing we focus on but a kind of sum total of these things. My wife has her own very analytical approach. I have a different one that involves looking at voting records, endorsements, and how interest groups rate candidates. Sometimes, when there is more than one candidate i am considering who has a chance, I even assign numerical values to particular votes, endorsements and interest group ratings and mathematically figure out who comes closest to my ideal for a candidate. But always there is also a consideration of who is the best candidate of those who actually have a shot of winning. In which case I may sit it out or endorse someone who has no shot.
There are very real reasons why Eric Adams gets progressive support, and I am sure Gatemouth is well aware of this. It just gets in the way of his prejudice.
Gatemouth's main objections seem to be the contradictory observations that Eric Adams spent some time as a Republican and that Eric Adams has had some good things to say about the Black Muslim movement. Usually not accusations thrown at the same candidate...and especially not usually TRUE accusations thrown at the same candidate! Gatemouth's objections have validity. And, as I said above, I applaud his airing them. But he is wrong in thinking progressives lack their own at least semi-logical political algebra when deciding who to support.
So why did I initially become a, somewhat reluctant and somewhat skeptical, Eric Adams supporter? What first caught my attention (and my wife's attention) was the fact that he was an ex-cop who also had close ties to the New York Civil Liberties Union and civil rights attorney Norm Siegel. A very unusual combination. Now to me, cops, who are represented by a public sector union (a good thing in my book...and in the book of most progressives), are a sometimes problematic but hard working and underpaid public servants who hold a dangerous job we all depend on. They all too often, in their problematic aspects, come into conflict with our civil liberties, represented heroically by the NYCLU and people like Norm Siegel. When someone can unite these two worthy but all too often disparate interests I take notice.
Even very recently, Norm Siegel and Eric Adams teamed up to support increased gun control, an issue where Gatemouth is likely to be more progressive than I sometimes am. They also appeared together on Yetta Kurland's radio show talking about the same issue: http://www.yettakurlandlive.com/12-19-2012/
Now let's look at who donates to Eric Adams. Public sector unions are his largest source of donations. Again, generally considered good things by progressives, liberals, Democrats and everyone other than Republicans. His next two largest categories of financial support are more worrisome to me: insurance interests and developers. But being supported primarily by labor is a good thing in my book. And I think Gatemouth would to some degree agree.
What about endorsements? Among those groups who have endorsed Adams (not current but for his State Senate runs)
Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn
NARAL Pro-Choice New York
New York AFL-CIO
Professional Staff Congress City University of New York (PSC-CUNY)
Public Employees Federation
United Federation of Teachers
Hmmm...LGBT, abortion rights, AFL-CIO, teachers and public employees...now I may have some occasional beefs with some of these organizations at times, but overall I don't see why I should go out of my way to oppose a strong candidate who is supported by these groups.
How about ratings from interest groups. Well the NRA HATES Eric Adams. Again something that would endear him even more to Gatemouth than to me. Adams gets low marks from the Conservative Party. Sounds good to me. Now he does get middling marks from the RIght to Life Committee...worrisome he didn't do worse in their eyes, but he is endorsed by NARAL so on balance that's good. EPL-Environmental Advocates (an environmental group) gave him high marks except for 2012 where he gets mediocre marks.
Okay, by no means perfect, but if we looked over the whole record of the NY State Senate Eric Adams does quite well...even if that may be damning with faint praise.
Then there is what Eric Adams says. A speech that exemplifies what I personally have heard him say frequently and I wish MANY more Democrats would say:
Now Gatemouth could argue that because that was at a CBID dinner, Senator Adams was just telling us what we wanted to hear. Fine. So what does he say on the floor of the Senate. Well, he was a strong advocate for Marriage Equality when it was looking like a tough sell:
Maybe not articulate, but a damned good advocacy for marriage equality. Even doing what many blacks have refused to do: compare the fight for marriage equality to the fight for civil rights for blacks. And his statement "when I pass these doors my bible stays out" warms my heart as a progressive, a liberal, a Jew and a Democrat. Seems damned progressive AND liberal to me!
So let's see, Eric Adams has ties with Republicans (but gets low ratings from the Conservative Party and the NRA) and with Democrats (including the machine, reformers, progressives and conservatives), has ties with Black Muslims and Hasids (neither of whom I have a lot in common with), and has ties with cops and the NYCLU. You can get two messages from this, probably BOTH true. Eric Adams is an opportunist. Well, duh! I mean he's a politician. There are few politicians who win who aren't. You can also say he is a coalition builder. They are not mutually exclusive.
His voting record is a good one. He has particularly taken liberal/progressive stands on gun control, stop and frisk and marriage equality that I think Gatemouth would be at least as pleased with as I am, if not more so.
So don't tell me I haven't thought out my stand regarding Eric Adams. And I triple dog dare you to face my wife and say she hasn't thought it out. I encourage Gatemouth's current crusade because it is info that is well worth publicizing. But my past (I have said nothing about his BP run to date) support of Eric Adams always had some reservations, always recognized his machine ties, and always was based on the fact that despite my reservations he took the right stands on key civil liberties issues that matter to me.
Got a problem with that Gatey?
Now playing at my friend's independent movie house:
Brooklyn Heights Cinema
70 henry street [@ orange] Brooklyn, NY 11201
718 596 5095
Live standup comedy the 3rd Wednesday of each month @ 9 pm
Quartet | 1 hr 34 min. (R)
Wed 5:00 pm | 7:00 pm
Thurs: 5:00 pm | 8:00 pm
Beecham House is abuzz. The rumor circling the halls is that the home for retired musicians is soon to play host to a new resident. Word is, it's a star. For Reginald Paget (Tom Courtenay), Wilfred Bond (Billy Connolly) and Cecily Robson (Pauline Collins) this sort of talk is par for the course at the gossipy home. But they're in for a special shock when the new arrival turns out to be none other than their former singing partner, Jean Horton (Maggie Smith).
Emperor | 1 hr 38 min. (PG-13)
Wed - Thurs: 5:50 pm | 8:10 pm
Following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II General Douglas MacArthur (Jones), the de facto ruler of Japan as Supreme Commander of the occupying forces, enlists a leading Japanese expert, General Bonner Fellers (Fox) to reach a decision of historical importance: should Emperor Hirohito be tried and hanged as a war criminal?
Admission | 2 hrs (PG-13)
Starring: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd & Lily Tomlin
Fri - Sun: 2:00 pm | 4:30 pm | 7:00 pm | 9:30 pm
Mon - Tues: 5:30 pm | 8:00 pm
A Princeton admissions officer who is up for a major promotion takes a professional risk after she meets a college-bound alternative school kid who just might be the son she gave up years ago in a secret adoption
Ginger & Rosa | 1 hr 29 min. (PG-13)
Starring: Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Annette Bening & Oliver Platt
Fri - Sun: 2:15 pm | 4:15 pm | 7:15 pm | 9:10 pm
Mon - Tues: 5:00 pm | 8:10 pm
A look at the lives of two teenage girls - inseparable friends Ginger and Rosa -- growing up in 1960s London as the Cuban Missile Crisis looms, and the pivotal event the comes to redefine their relationship.
Ten years ago George W. Bush led America into one of the biggest blunders in our history: the invasion of Iraq. We were already at war with al-Qaeda, a group that attacked America. Bush actually took troops away from THAT war, a legitimate war against an aggressor who has deliberately carried out many attacks against America and its allies, so he could illegally invade a nation that had had nothing to do with any attacks on America.
The invasion of Iraq was based completely on lies, and even though the Republicans KNEW that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, they still used it as an excuse to invade Iraq. And these were the SAME Republicans who refused to back Bill Clinton when he wanted to go after al-Qaeda well BEFORE 9/11, and the same Republicans who said Bill Clinton was "obsessed with al-Qaeda" when he warned them that al-Qaeda would be the biggest threat Bush would have to deal with. Well, instead of listening to Bill Clinton, Bush ignored the threat and so we got hit on 9/11 while Bush did nothing and Cheney hid like a mouse. Then, when they finally had bin Laden cornered in Tora Bora, he started pulling troops OUT of Afghanistan to illegally invade Iraq.
...Leaving it to Barack Obama to FINALLY get bin Laden.
Bush's Big Blunder ruined America's reputation, the cost ruined our economy, and it ruined the lives of thousands of our soldiers who served in a war based exclusively on lies. I will never forgive the Republicans for misleading us down this stupid and destructive path.
But sometimes the best way to face such an overwhelmingly disgusting period of Republican misrule is through parody. So on the 10th anniversary of Bush's Biggest Blunder, I give you Eric Idle summarizing the Bush years to perfection: